Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why U.S. Antimissile System In South Korea Worries China

"The Chinese government worries that the American antimissile system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, could erode its nuclear deterrent — its ability to scare off potential foes from ever considering a nuclear attack."

"Its chief worry is not that Thaad could take down missiles: the system offers a canopy of potential protection over South Korea, but does not have the reach to bring down China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Instead, China’s complaint is focused on Thaad’s radar system, which Chinese experts have said could be used to track the People’s Liberation Army’s missile forces."

"Deploying Thaad’s current radar system “would undermine China’s nuclear deterrence by collecting important data on Chinese nuclear warheads,” Li Bin, a nuclear weapons expert at Tsinghua University in Beijing, wrote last week."

"He and other Chinese experts say the radar could identify which Chinese missiles are carrying decoy warheads intended to outfox foes. That would be like being able to see what cards China holds in a nuclear poker game, and that could weaken China’s deterrent, they say."

“For China this is a very important point, because its missiles are limited in number to begin with,” Wu Riqiang, a nuclear expert at Renmin University in Beijing. That meant, he said, “China could lose its nuclear retaliatory capacity.”

"For China, it does not matter that the American and South Korean governments have said Thaad is meant only to foil North Korean missiles. Mr. Wu said."

“What we worry about is the ability. It doesn’t matter to us whether the United States says this is aimed at North Korea or China,” Mr. Wu said. “If there’s this ability, then China must worry.”